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Discussion Starter #1
Hi People. I promised a few members I'd create a Build Thread for the guitar I'm building.

It's Rick Hubka here from Chemainus BC on Vancouver Island. I just retired 3 months ago and it's time to have some fun!!!!

I've always been a Queen and Brian May fan but the recent release of the movie Bohemian Rhapsody pushed me over the edge. I wanted to build an authentic copy of Brian's Red Special.

If you'd like to see a Red Special guitar made step by step, follow along. I do you my own CNC machine for wood carving. 5 years ago I built my own CNC machine because... I wanted it to make my guitar necks. The guitar can still be made with a router and other tools. It just takes longer.

I bought this book a few months back that brian co-wrote in 2014. It has a wealth of information on how the 1962-1964 homemade build was done.


I obtained the files for the plans here:
Plans | Red Special Library
for only $7.80 US. A steal.
The metric plans come in PDF, DXF, STEP, SolidWorks and Fusion 360. Wow!
I'd like to use Fusion 360 but... I'd have to become an advanced user over night. However, I am proficient in Vetric Aspire so...
I figured out how to get Fusion 360 to convert mm to inches and saved a copy. Easy. Next I split out the drawing into seperate components and saved them separately. Then I learned how to select the objects I wanted and saved them as drawings that I can export to DXF. Then I import the DXF into Vectric Aspire. Now in Aspire I have spent 50 hours so far manipulating measurements, creating toolpaths and creating a 3D model of the 3 connected holes for the Jack Plug.
Next I have to learn how to model the Red Special neck in Aspire and using this tutorial:
Making a Guitar Neck | Vectric
and others that could take another 100 hours. Yikes!

The Red Special (RS) Body is made up of 2x layers of 18-19mm blockboard (pinecore) these have solid Oak sections inserted to add strength which holds neck, tremolo, neck. The blockboard is hollowed out with a router or CNC, 16-17mm deep, so you don't go all the way through, the only totally through cut is the electronic chamber, some of this is under cut with the router/cnc.
The next layer(s) is mahogany veneer, which covers the entire body.

Brian and his dad got their blockboard from an old Oak dinning table they had. Maybe 100 years old now. Oddly enough I could source blockboard from the UK, but could not source it locally here in Canada. So like others who insist on an authentic build, I will make my own blockboard from pine wood and oak veneer covering layers.

I cut up enough pine blockboard wood for 2 guitars which means 4 layers of blockboard.


Once glued the blockboard pieces get a layer of oak veneer top and bottom that will never be seen later.
Later I even have to glue a 6 pence coin into the electronics cavity later that will never be seen.
Brian and his dad had never built a guitar and had no $ or cool tools like us. It's totally amazing what they did!!!
So... Just saying to do an authentic build requires I pretend I am in the UK in 1960 with no wood sources or modern tools at times :)



Glue up 8 half layers of pine wood (alternating the end grain to minimize warping).
My planner is 13" wide and my pre-CNC pineboard width must be 15.5" to I need to glue up the pine in half's requiring 8 glue-ups for 2 guitars.


I cut out all large knots and made the pine pieces various lengths for authenticity.


More to follow in additional posts...
 

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Discussion Starter #2
2nd Post.

Gluing pine half's together after running through the planner. I use a dowel jig to ensure a level fit.
All joints are checked for 90 degree edge and run through an edge planner if needed.



Next I will glue on the oak veneer to both sides of the the laminated pine that will never be seen :)
Some builders use 2 layers of solid mahogany for this guitar.
I'll have 8 layers (2 pine), (4 oak veneer), (2 mahogany veneer) to be authentic.


Building a Red Special is takes a lot longer than most other guitars. It's a lot more work than building most electric guitars.
1) Making your own Pine blockboard with Oak veneer is a pain. Laminate various lengths/pieces of pine to 0.63" thickness, then add Oak veneer both sides. Much more work than I thought. I'd buy it locally if I could.

2) Parts/Hardware - It takes a lot of research to know what parts you need. Many parts are non-standard for an electric and only sold in the U.K. I got many parts here at Guitar and Woods in the U.K.:
RED SPECIAL PARTS KIT #1
Guitars and Woods - Luthier Supplies
I bought the pickups here:
Tri-sonic Vintage Guitar Accessories London

I have most parts now and it looks like it will cost me approximately $1100.00 U.S. for parts to build one Red Special. I'm building two.
Here's a picture of just some of the parts that have arrived:

Pickups from Burns of London in U.K.


Gluing Oak Veneer to one side of a Pine Blockboard.


Clamping


More to follow in additional posts...
 

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Discussion Starter #3
3rd post

It's Blockboard now!


Countless fun hours taking Fusion 360 sketches and exporting them to DXF files to be able to import into Vectric Aspire. Then modify and creating toolpaths. The big opening in the middle of the left body gets a solid piece of oak. Why? It's for the bridge to neck connect and... that's how Brian May and his dad built the original Red Special in the early 60's.



I have been very busy converting measurments and drawing in Vectric Aspire to get the bloakboard pieces for the Red Special ready for cnc cutout. Way too many hours!

With the Bloakboard ready I screwed down the 4 corners and had the cnc drill needed holes that will later be used for screwing the 2 bloackboard halfs together


Then I cut the large piece of oak which will be inserted into this layer.


I CNC cut the recess for the oak into the bloackboard. I could spread the hole using a relief cut I made at the top and that same cut allowed me to clamp the oak insert. My first oak piece was too small but my second try fit perfect. I always seem to have trouble with clearances for inlays :(


More to follow in additional posts...
 

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Discussion Starter #4
4th post

This is the drawing I used to create the cutting toolpaths for this lower bloackboard piece. It's one of a dozen drawings I'm working on for the multi piece body, neck and fretboard. I have to hand it to Brian May and his father. They created a very unique work of art when they built the Red Special by hand in the early 60's.


After glueing in the Oak I ran the first set of toolpath cuts on the oak for the guitar tremelo cavities here.


Yeehaw!!! bliss The bottom bloackboard piece is done. The large left cavity is half of the guitars internal acoustic chamber. The large right cavity is for the electrics.


Front angle


Test fit the Tremelo assembly I purchased in the UK. Brian's tremelo is a one of a kind!


Hopefully I'll update the build with pictures of the upper bloackboard layer in about a week because the drawing is 90% done.
Cheers!
 

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Impressive stuff. I hope it exceeds your expectations.

Sidebar: Chemainus is a cool little place. My mom lives on SSI and I take her back-and-forth to Duncan via the Vesuvius ferry for Dr. appts.a couple of times a year. If she behaves sometimes I take her to Chemainus for ice cream. ;-)
 
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Discussion Starter #11
Hi People
Just a small update on an important 3" wide piece of oak for the bridge and temolo mount I just CNC cut this morning.
Note... This piece is my second try :( The first one failed quality control :)
This piece gets glued into a small recess in the lower large oak piece. It will protrude up into the upper Blockboard piece.


Here the small oak piece sits in it's home and it am test fitting the purchased tremolo and bridge parts.


Trivia time...
Did you know that Brian May has used a UK 6 pence coin as a guitar pick his whole life?
He glued a 6 pence coin on the head stock of his Red Special guitar and glued a 6 pence coin inside the guitar electrics cavity.
I purchased 50 of the old 6 pence coins on eBay for $10


Another update next week. I hope.
Cheers
 

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Discussion Starter #15
How many BM specials do you plan to make?
:) Why 50 pence coins? On eBay it was $3 for 1..... $10 for 50. Thought I'd try using them for a pick but doubt I'll like that.

I'm building 2 Red Specials. Might be finished in August sometime??? One for myself and 1 to sell. Then... I may make 2 more??? This guitar is quite complex to build so the first one takes a long time. Brian and his father spent 2 years designing and building his original. I just retired 3 months and I'm one of those guys who has to stay busy all the time. Maybe build 5 or 6 guitars a year?
There is more than a dozen builders making Red Special copies including Brian May himself who gets a version manufactured in Korea. 2 companies in the UK sell the hardware kits for making a Red Specials. Excluding painting all the parts for 1 Red Special cost me $1100 US. I Don't know how long this first one will take to build yet but my CAD drawing time will be over 100 hours because I'm slow at it.

Hey... I'm retired now. It's most important I have fun with this project.:)

Cheers
 

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That trem system has always fascinated me.
So well designed and robust. I'd like to build one for myself (the tremolo that is) -stick it in a custom strat or even a les paul type guitar
 

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Discussion Starter #20 (Edited)
"The Naked Red Special" coming soon:) Not really... I'm just giving my future experiment a name. This is just a 1 day test of a RS with no body.

I have had so many wonderful comments on this build. Thanks!

People especially liked how complex and fantastic the "small tremolo/bridge oak block" is that I'm going to spill my guts on a cool surprise project diversion I have for you all soon.

Here goes... I think Brian and his father unknowingly created kind of an electric guitar system just by the way they designed and built the Red Special's internals. I mean internals could remain the same and they could have wrapped any shape electric guitar body around it.

To prove my "Brian May Guitar System" theory I am going to assemble and play a "Naked Red Special". I'll start by putting together just the RS internal 2 oak blocks and the neck.
Then install the tremolo/bridge and pickups, ETC. Then plugin and play my RS naked. It will look like a skinny travel guitar or... something like this...
The marvel of CAD eh! (Canadians love to say eh)


The wiring? Oh... it will be a hanging mess but we don't care.

I'm really excited about doing this little diversion project in the middle of my RS build. I will take lots of pictures and maybe a video.

Stay tuned for my "Naked Red Special" experiment in mid June.

Ok. Back to my RS build. Being retired now is so cool. I have so much time to do silly little fun things!

Cheers
Rick Hubka
 
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